“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)
When I think of the ministry of Jesus, I have a very hard time understanding how being yoked with him can be anything but hard work. That may be because my focus is on the yoke, a heavy apparatus that is designed for hard work, rather than being focused on who I am asked to partner with.
Jesus invites us to be yoked with him. A yoke pairs two oxen side by side so that they can pull together to get hard work done. So, I still ask the question: What does this work have to do with “rest,” being “easy,” and a “burden that is light?” What kind of invitation calls people who are “weary and burdened” and offers them a yoke that puts them to work?
Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of this passage in The Message may help: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
The yoke fits easily on us, because it fits Jesus perfectly, and he’s shaping us to become like him. Jesus was not working at being a message of grace, love, and hope, he was all of those things. When we live lives filled with grace, love and hope even the line between work and rest is blurred.
Take Jesus’ invitation to be yoked with him and learn to live as he did for the sake of others.
Dear Jesus, place your grace-shaped yoke on me, that I may find rest in working alongside you. Amen